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Chiropractic and Cholesterol?

Because chiropractic care is about restoring overall general health and well-being, and since the body cannot be segregated into only one system (like only the neuromusculoskeletal), the rest of the body including the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine, nervous, and the rest of the “systems” sometimes have to be addressed in order to improve the patient’s complaint(s). This month, let’s take a look at the current approaches utilized to control cholesterol and how chiropractic fits into the picture…

As you’ve probably heard, the prescription rate of statin medications (drugs that lower cholesterol) has gone gangbusters in our society in the last decade. Ironically, one of the most common and debilitating side effects of the statin group of medications is generalized, sometimes disabling, muscle pain caused by something called “rhabdomyolysis.” Since chiropractors treat MANY patients with muscle-related pain, it’s quite common for these people to visit chiropractic offices for help managing their general muscular pain, not considering the cause of their pain may be from the side-effects of their medication! Discontinuing the statin medication may be the only way to stop this very painful and fairly common side-effect. That is, if it isn’t too late and the muscle pain has not become permanent!

In November 2013, The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released NEW cholesterol drug guidelines. These guidelines use a special calculator that takes into account these lifestyle factors: 1) the patient’s weight; 2) the patient’s age; 3) cholesterol / LDL numbers; 4) blood pressure; 5) smoking habits; and 6) the use of blood pressure medications. The new focus is on exercise, losing weight, eating the right foods, and being aware of the risks. Statins are recommended for people already diagnosed with heart disease, those with extremely high LDL’s (bad cholesterol), middle-aged type 2 diabetics, and those between 40-70 whose estimated ten-year risk is calculated at 7.5% or higher. Some experts criticize that the calculator overestimates how many people need statins and caution is recommended to NOT depend solely on this approach. The ultimate goal is to reduce bad cholesterol by 50% for those with high risk and 30-50% for those with moderate risk, of which studies report that this will reduce the chance of having a heart attack. The shift to include lifestyle changes and to NOT only focus on one number (cholesterol level) is a step in the right direction, especially for those who can’t tolerate statins due to the sometimes significant muscle pain side effects.

In respect to whole person care, chiropractors manage aspects that negatively affect health, and that includes cholesterol management. Dietary approaches include, not only guidance in eating the right foods, but also in recommending specific nutrients that can lower cholesterol. For example, studies show eating fewer processed food reduces “trans-fats,” (which increase LDLs and reduces the “good” HDL cholesterol), and saturated fat. This is reportedly MORE helpful than eating less cholesterol-rich foods! Nutrients like red rice yeast can help reduce cholesterol without the side-effect risks. Weight loss, blood pressure control, and smoking cessation are other ways we can help you win this war! We want you to live longer with a higher quality of life!


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